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Enrollment declines as students prepare for 2004-05 school year

Sun Advocate reporter

Angela Draper and Cyndi Parry cut out images to hang in lockers at Helper Junior High for the upcoming school year. The two students will be in the seventh grade and will begin attending classes on Thursday.

Although a projected 3,430 students will fill the halls of Carbon County schools beginning Thursday, last year's enrollment of 3,529 indicates that fewer and fewer students are returning to local classrooms.

School superintendent David Armstrong, who has been with the district since 2001, said the numbers have steadily dropped for his entire tenure.

"Since I've been here, we have lost 423 students," indicated Armstrong.

As a result of the loss in student population in the last four years, 29 teaching positions have been cut along with four administrative and two counseling positions, according to the superintendent.

Student losses in Carbon County are unusual compared to most Utah schools, however.

Of the 99 students not enrolling for the current year, 47 are from the high school pool. Armstrong said losing older students is uncommon, as it is normally the parents of younger students who are most mobile.

Armstrong attributes the fluctuation to the loss of area mining jobs.

The superintendent said he has investigated the loss in student numbers with the help of local mayors and discovered that many families are moving to Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming in an attempt to find employment at other mines.

However, Armstrong indicated that he remains hopeful that the new Lila Canyon coal mine will offer an adequate number of jobs to keep area families from having to relocate.

Teachers institute is scheduled to start Tuesday for area educators.

The agenda will include updates on what is happening with the district, the introduction of new teachers and faculty meetings.

The group will also attend a seminar by motivational speaker Chad Hymas.

Hymas, who suffered a major lifestyle change after becoming a paraplegic, will lecture on the importance of learning different approaches based on varying situations.

The start of the 2004-2005 school season will also see changes in the gifted and talented student programs.

According to Armstrong, every public school in Carbon County will be responsible for providing the teachers for individual programs rather than having a roaming instructor from the district.

Armstrong expects the new program to be more efficient and provide the students more time with an instructor.

Creekview Elementary has already set up a program at the school in Price to service the students four times a week.

Area residents are reminded to be aware of students being back in school zones and follow appropriate sign postings. Drivers are also required to stop behind school buses when its lights are flashing and watch for youth at crosswalks.

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